The Age Of White Guilt By Shelby Steele

1936 words - 8 pages

The Real Fault
“On his show Monday night, Sean Hannity spoke with Ann Coulter about the racism and the narrative she said the media is pushing in order to avoid discussing difficult issues. Everyone would be better off without “white guilt,” Coulter argued — decrying that all liberals want to talk about is racism.Rattling off a list of foreign policy concerns, Hannity noted that Democrats aren’t talking about any of those issues, “because all they can do is accuse Republicans of racism.” We’ve gotten to a point where everything is deemed racist, he and Coulter agreed. At that point, he aired a montage of “Democrats playing the issue hard.” These “tactics,” Hannity said — citing “class warfare,” “scaring granny” and the “race card” — are proving effective to a certain extent” (Vamburker). In Age of White Guilt, Shelby Steele writes to both whites and blacks to express concern and shed light on the injustices he feels African-Americans are placing on whites. Steele’s purpose of his essay is to address White Guilt, which he defines as “...not a personal sense of remorse over past wrongs. White guilt is literally a vacuum of moral authority in matters of race, equality, and opportunity that comes from the association of mere white skin with America’s historical racism”(Steele 39). Steele goes in depth about the deindividuation of blacks and the conformity that he feels is happening throughout the black community as a result. Throughout the essay, Steele appeals to ethos by not only providing facts to support his claim, he also uses his first hand account, detached from the emotion, to build his credibility. Many of Steele’s points are valid and give the audience food for thought, but at the same time most of his arguments only fit extremists.
The rhetorical analysis used in The Age of White Guilt allows Steele to push his purpose on the reader more effectively with the use of parallelism to attract the readers attention to the main part of his essay. “The greatest problem in coming from an oppressed group is the power the oppressor has over your group. The second greatest problem is the power your group has over you”(Steele 36). By using parallelism Steele is able to take a hold of the readers attention and really make them think about what he just said. By building his credibility in the early stages of his essay, Steele is able to appeal to ethos. By doing so, he proves to his audience that he truly knows and understands the topic of white guilt, and that he has placed himself in the shoes of others. By opening his essay with an anecdote, Steele is personally relating his personal life with the subject of his essay which causes his credibility to increase in the eyes of the reader and it also appeals to pathos. “Did he again need… to be out from under the impossible demands of a symbiotically defined black identity, to breathe on his own?” (Steele 40). By using this rhetorical question, Steele is able to engage...

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